“500 Internal Server Error” on a Joomla Website After Using the Admin Tools Extension

This morning, we had a client calling us and saying that his website was displaying a “500 Internal Server Error” message. He told us that this started happening when he tried to fix the permissions by using Admin Tools, which is a well known Joomla extension that is used for security and fixing broken Joomla databases.

Before we start, we would like to point out that we’re not huge fans of Admin Tools, we have seen many websites getting completely broken when using some features of Admin Tools, which means that Admin Tools, in many cases, does the complete opposite of what it claims to do.

In any case, since this is an “Internal Server Error”, then this means that Apache must have logged what happened to the error log file. So, we checked the error log file by logging in to the cPanel of the website, and then clicking on Error Log link under the Logs section, and this is what we saw:

[Thu Jun 05 09:39:33 2014] [error] [client] File does not exist: /home/[username]/public_html/500.shtml
[Thu Jun 05 09:39:33 2014] [error] [client] SoftException in Application.cpp:261: File "/home/[username]/public_html/index.php" is writeable by group
[Thu Jun 05 09:36:33 2014] [error] [client] File does not exist: /home/[username]/public_html/404.shtml

Aha! It seems that Admin Tools changed the permissions of the index.php file to be written by everyone, so we checked the filesystem, and to our horror (well, that’s an exaggeration, we weren’t really horrified, but we were shocked nonetheless), all the file and folder permissions were set to 777. From the cPanel‘s File Manager, we changed the permissions of the index.php file located under the root directory of the website and the one located under the administrator folder to 644. We then changed the permissions on the administrator folder to 755. That allowed us to access the backend of the site.

We then logged in to the backend of the Joomla site, and we went to Components -> Admin Tools, and then we clicked on Permission Configuration. We discovered that the Default Permissions for both the Directories and the Files were set to 777. That causes a problem under suPHP (because suPHP thinks, and rightfully so, that these permissions are not safe). We changed the Default Permissions of the Directories and the Files to 755 and 644 respectively, and then we saved them (by clicking on Save Default Permissions), and then we went back to the main screen on Admin Tools, and we clicked on Fix Permissions. That completely fixed the problem!

If you have a “500 Internal Server Error” error (yes, we know, “error” is there twice) on your website after using the Admin Tools extension, then check your file permissions, if they’re all 777, then there is your problem! Just apply the above solution and you should be set. However, if you still have the same issue or if you think that our post is too technical, then please contact us. We will fix the problem for you in no time, our rates are super affordable, and we are the friendliest Joomla experts in the Milky Way!

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